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Temptation caught this loyal wife.
There is usually space at the bar, always room for one more it seems; and a table you can share with others, which can be delightful or odious, depending upon who your draw for a lunch partner; and often one or two seats around the room. Your eye takes it all in as you choose where to sit, takes in the room and its people, while your heart begins to imagine what is underneath the surfaces. Standing there in the door, I sometimes imagine I am looking at a landscape, and I try to find the softest patch of grass for a seat, or a quiet circle of shade on a hot day - not by that crowd, their brightness is pouring over on all sides - maybe a window seat in the corner? Sometimes color, sometimes warmth, sometimes a smile. What part of a landscape is a smile? At other times I am with friends, one of whom may be more intent on deciding with his or her inner reason which table and which chair and which bit of earth is best; then I just follow and find whatever corner of their garden is most inviting.
That day from the doorway it was familiar territory, and a familiar time of day, and since I had spent the entire morning on the telephone my attention was leaning more toward a Dark Roast and a deep breath than anything else. The landscape was in fog. I looked around absently for an empty seat - lunchtime crowd, regulars, me - around the room once. Vague and in fog. I stifled a yawn. But then I woke up a bit, as though someone had called my name, or had given me a nudge: back in the corner I thought caught sight of a small island, population one castaway, or a pool of stillness, population one heron. After the constant rattle and disconnection of the phones, the quiet felt good.
— Table for...? I hadn't noticed the waiter approaching, and he brought me back to myself with a welcoming smile. — Just yourself?
— Well... you've been here before, haven't you? You can sit where you like. I'll come by and take your order.
— Thanks. There's... nothing available in the corner, is there? Maybe that couple will finish soon? I glanced back toward the pool. Still quiet. We could both see the couple was deep in conversation, absorbed as much in each other as in their words, they looked like recent love, still discovering even a lunch break. I felt a gentle gnawing inside - was that hunger? - imagining how they may have spent the morning, spent the whole morning away from work, both mysteriously suffering the same ailment the night before, and calling in before breakfast to say No, no they could not come in today, and Yes, they knew they would have to forfeit a day off, no help for it... oh, I'll feel better very soon I'm sure - the telephone hiding a smile - yes, I'll feel better, I'm sure, thank you, thank you, and I will surely be in to work tomorrow, no matter how I am feeling.
— Well, sit where you like. The waiter, who couldn't tell how long my hesitation might go on, gave me a nod and moved off to take his orders and deliver his food. I took a breath and decided on a small table by the door: a little drafty, and as far as landscaping was concerned pretty poor soil, but I could see to the far wall of the café, and feel some of that quiet water from where I sat. Taking my coat off, I folded it over the back of the facing chair and hung my purse over the arm of my own. Then I moved to sit down, and as I settled myself I crossed my legs. Then I looked up, just as the man in the corner looked up briefly from his book as well, and saw me.
Or I might say he took note of me.